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David Cronenberg Says Netflix Passed on ‘Crimes,’ Other Projects: Streamer Is ‘Very Conservative’

The "Crimes of the Future" director is still interested in making a streaming series, but says the industry is too focused on "movie making, not filmmaking."

David Cronenberg, writer/director of the upcoming film "Crimes of the Future," introduces a trailer for the film during the NEON Entertainment presentation at CinemaCon 2022 at Caesars Palace, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

David Cronenberg

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

David Cronenberg makes his long-awaited return to filmmaking with “Crimes of the Future,” one of the most anticipated films premiering at the Cannes Film Festival. But if the “Videodrome” director got his way, his return would have come a lot sooner.

In a new interview with Variety, Cronenberg opined about the long process of financing the film, and tried to clarify what he views as misconceptions about the process of working with big streaming services.

“I’m pretty sure we did talk to Amazon and Netflix for this, and it was not a project they wanted to do,” Cronenberg said. “And I think my feeling is I really was very interested in the whole Netflix streaming phenomenon, definitely. But I think that they’re still very conservative. I mean, I think they’re still like a Hollywood studio. I thought maybe they would be different.”

He went on to say that Netflix gets credit for distributing diverse and often boundary-pushing storytelling from around the world, but he believes the movies and shows that they produce themselves are much more generic.

“The difference is that Netflix can show very interesting streaming series from Korea, from Finland, and they say it’s a Netflix original, but it isn’t really — it’s something they have acquired,” he said. “But I think when it comes to their actual production that they do themselves, they’re very conservative. I think they think in mainstream terms, that’s my experience with them anyway.”

IndieWire has reached out to Netflix for comment.

While Netflix and Amazon may have passed on “Crimes” as the director alleges, Cronenberg previously worked with Netflix on a series that made it further into the development process. But Netflix ultimately scrapped that project as well, leading Cronenberg to take it in a different direction. (Another project rumored to be in the mix at the streamer was an adaptation of his 2014 novel “Consumed.”)

“I tried and we got to two episodes, and then they decided not to do it,” he said. “And I was disappointed because I was interested in streaming in cinematic terms. I thought that would be a very interesting experience for me as a writer, as a creator, and then also as a director. And maybe I’ll have that experience one day, but at the moment, it’s still on movie making, not filmmaking. So the project that I was talking to Netflix about, it will be a feature film instead.”

Neon releases “Crimes of the Future” in U.S. theaters on June 3 following its premiere in competition at Cannes.

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